top 3 lessons from 3 weeks of sales

I am transitioning to a sales position, and here are the top three things I have learned so far:

1. Know which hoop you are aiming for. I thought that making sales was my goal.

Nope, it is finding the right clients- companies who we can work with profitably for the long term. Finding the right clients means our staff is happier, we make more money, and the same for the client.

2. Separate results from effort. I am still working on this- but I am seeing (as so many people have said) that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, it matters what results you get. And most results come from a small part of your total effort.

Some people take that to mean that you should work every waking hour during the work week. Some take it to mean that you should figure out which specific part of your effort is creating the results, and then go do that, but not to the point that work is all you do.

3. Find great mentors. Ian, my mother, a co-workers former vendor, some of my mother’s friends, a former boss- I am starting to build a group of people who know something about this sales thing.

I learn a lot from each conversation with any of them, and it is usually something different from each person. When I hear the same thing from more than one, I know I better follow that advice.

How about you? What big lessons would you add to this list?

5 Responses to “top 3 lessons from 3 weeks of sales”

  1. 1 KermitFan May 30, 2007 at 7:21 am

    I love that you mention your mother as one of your mentors. It’s a rare person who truly appreciates their mother as a family member and a mentor. My hat’s off to you on that one! 🙂

  2. 2 Linda May 30, 2007 at 7:58 am

    A new analogy for you…gardening.

    A basketball game is over in a short while. If you did not make enough baskets you have lost the game. If you make three shots in a row after the last buzzer sounds, it has no impact on the game. You still lost.

    Gardening is a long-term effort. Some of the things you do today do not appear to show any results, and yet are essential for the crop you’ll get later this year…and next year. And some of what you need to do, like spreading fertilizer or weeding, is essential but perhaps not enjoyable.

    With many crops, you seed every few weeks to get results over a longer period of time. It does not help the family if all the lettuce comes in at once and you can’t realistically eat it all. Four weeks later when you’d like a salad, the lettuce has bolted.

    * Consider allocating some time each week to activities with short-, medium- and long-term results.
    * Have cash resources (both you and the company you work for in the form of savings and lines of credit) to hold you over when you have a lull in new clients just as a good gardener puts up some of the produce during the summer to have from-the-garden veggies in the winter. (In my company we have excess funds equal to three-month’s operating expenses.)
    * When a prospect does not seem to be leading to an immediate sale, make plans to stay in touch. They just may be next year’s bumper crop!

  3. 3 KermitFan June 5, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Linda has a great point! To further the gardening analogy: sometimes you have to know when to till something under and let it ferment for a while — it may not have grown into the business that you expected, but it can certainly fuel future growth.

    I had a sales rep who knew the value of contacting me periodically, but also knew when it was time to let it rest. The result? She didn’t get a contract from me at my last company, but at my new company, I use her monthly. Patience and knowing when to “till me under” for a while paid off tenfold for her!

  4. 4 brianatportent June 5, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I am also thinking about what kind of results I am really looking for.

    2 things that are hard to reconcile- I want to be showing some kind of results, and I also want to bring in a few very high quality clients each month.

    Putting in a week of work in order to make no sales feels like a let-down after the go-go-go world of being an account manager who is building 3 sites and running 5 campaigns and constantly busy.

    We may find that getting just 2 signed contracts per month is my sweet spot. I have to adjust to that less frequent feeling of achievement.

  5. 5 KermitFan June 12, 2007 at 6:38 am

    Perhaps you need to adjust your definition of achievement? Isn’t it an achievement to deepen a relationship with a prospect — even if it doesn’t result (immediately) in a sale?

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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